Israel’s culinary traditions comprise foods and cooking methods spanning thousands of years of history, dating back to the days of the ancient kings of the Holy Land. Because of its unique location and colorful past, Israel has been widely influenced over the ages by surrounding cultures such as Asia, Africa, and Europe. Today, cuisines are a distinct blend of modern influence while staying true to Israel’s millennia-old origins.
Hummus, with recorded recipes dating back to the 13th century, is a flavorful dip made of chickpeas with vinegar, pickled lemons, herbs, spices, and oils. Arguably the most popular staple within the Israeli diet, hummus is a common part of everyday meals and is best captured within a piece of freshly baked pita. Because there is such a high demand for the product, it is now a “national food symbol” of Israel.
Being widely debated by many scholars and historians, falafel is speculated to have its origins rooted in Pharaonic Egypt, being adopted by the Israelites into the Promised Land. On par with the consumption rate of hummus, falafel has been labeled as the common “street food” within Israeli culture. A tour to Israel is not complete without a visit to a falafel stand.
Shakshuka is a hearty dish of poached eggs cooked in a rich sauce mixed with tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, sometimes spiced with cumin. The combination of textures, blended with unique spices, became popular when Tunisian Jews introduced the dish to the culture. Shakshuka is often found on breakfast menus throughout Israel with its assortment of fresh, healthy Israeli-grown vegetables and ingredients. It has even been said that shakshuka best challenges hummus and falafel as the national favorite, especially during the winter season.
As far as we know, lentils have been consumed since roughly 13,000 BCE, with specimens being unearthed in the Franchthi Cave located in Greece. The ancient Greeks loved turning this plant into a thick soup, which sounds incredible, especially now that we endure the chill of winter months! It’s a “comfort” food, and, interesting to note, lentil soup is mentioned in the Book of Genesis within the story of Jacob and Esau. Today, various recipes for lentil soup have become quite a traditional Jewish dish eaten by many.
Commonly known as the Holy Land, Israel is also recognized for its cuisines and the delicacies that it produces. While there are dozens upon dozens of other foods hailing from Israel, these are but just a few that really stand out as the most common dishes linked to the land. If you want to see more of what the land has to offer, and taste more of all the land has to present, you’ll need to book a trip and experience the rest for yourself!